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Red Maple Swamp

April 9, 2010

We have to bid farewell to the red maple swamp. We’ll leave its mystery and beauty to the coyote and deer; to the rabbit and woodcock. The ticks are back, the prickers to follow and poison ivy will grow 12-feet tall before all is said and done.

Inside the dark swamp, the moss hummocks remain undisturbed. Highbush blueberry still reaches for pockets of sunlight and Concord grapes climb 50-feet high to ripen far beyond reach. Arrowwood grows in heavy clusters along the streams and ferns are left flattened by sleeping deer.

But the entryways to this magical place grow thick with bear briar, bittersweet, blackberry, honeysuckle, poison ivy and lily of the valley. Its an invasive species hoe-down I hope to break up for good one day, but for now I simply lay my scythe down in spring and pick it up again in fall. It takes less than an hour to cut through the 60 linear feet of summer growth to reclaim our little hideaway in the fall – a tiny price to pay for lowering our chances of contracting Lyme disease.

So, with great deer tracking and bird watching and coyote spying to look forward to next winter, I tip my cap to the low land, hang up my bypass pruners and machete, and let the swamp return to doing whatever it does when no one is watching.

There are many sheltered oases of plant and animal life on the Cape. Among other functions, they make up a system of corridors for creatures on the move. This one is ours, last fall, when we chopped our way in and looked around:

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